by Randy Buehler
It's time to see if Rebels can swim. The four feature match tables for round 11 included 6 Rising Waters decks. It was a Mogg Squad theme round with 2 mirror matchups and 2 Squad members taking on Rebel decks. Ben Rubin and Sigurd Eskeland were 1st and 2nd in the overall standings before they faced off against each other. Rubin is looking to join the elite group of people who've made 4 final days while Eskeland is looking for his first. Before taking some time off from the Tour for school, "The Big Viking" was widely consider one of the best players never to make Top 8. Apparently, the absence hasn't hurt him.
Eskeland played out a Waterfront Bouncer and a Stinging Barrier early in game 1. Rubin used Parallax Wave to remove them from the game for a while, but Eskeland had one more of each and thus Rubin was unable to press his temporary advantage. Rubin then tried to play one of the cards that makes his deck different from the other Rebel decks: Blastoderm. Blastoderm is a beating against Rising Waters decks since they can't really block it and it's untargetable so it can't be bounced either. Lucky for Eskeland he had Thwart in hand so he returned three Islands to his hand and Blastoderm went away.
Eskeland soon got his Barrier and Bouncer back and double-Barrier allowed him to kill most of Ben's creatures. Ben fought gamely by playing more and trying to swarm, but it didn't work and then Rising Waters hit the table. After many turns where neither player did anything but untap one land per turn, Rubin had to go for it. He tried Blastoderm, which got Thwarted, and then he tried to Disenchant the Waters. Eskeland was forced to sacrifice an Eye of Ramos to get the mana necessary for Counterspell, but he did. Eskeland's 2 Bouncers then bounced the rest of Rubin's creatures and after taking 2 damage from attacking Bouncers just once, Rubin knew it was time to concede.
Eskeland once again shuffled his entire sideboard into his deck and then commented out loud "I don't know how to board, Ben." Rubin's Rebel deck is certainly not normal.
Game 2 wasn't close. Rubin failed to play a land on any of turns 3, 4, or 5 while Eskeland played out Drake hatchling, Stronghold Zeppelin, Waterfront Bouncer, and a 2nd hatchling. Who needs Rising Waters! Port, Bouncer, and flying beatdown seemed plenty good enough. Eskeland's 2nd Zeppelin got Arrested, but he played a 3rd Drake and Ben was helpless to stop all those fliers.
After the game Sigurd flexed, saying "the aggro board!" and then "We'll see each other in the Top 8, I hope." Rubin grumbled about how Zeppelin should be so bad against him but looked so good and then answered "I'll see you there."
Eskeland - 2
Rubin - 1